Since September 2015, mobile technology has become a key tool in personalising learning and igniting enthusiasm amongst our pupils at PGS.

We believe that introducing mobile technology, and particularly iPads, to our classrooms has a number of distinct benefits. The principal focus is on how they can be used as part of the teachers’ repertoire to enhance teaching and learning. In particular, we have identified a number of aspects where we hope to capitalise on their use:

1. To support collaborative learning.

2. To facilitate communication between pupils and teachers including homework setting, collecting personalised feedback and rapid assessment of understanding in lessons.

3. To promote creativity and new approaches to pedagogy.

4. To provide personalised learning experiences for pupils and to assist teachers in addressing the needs of individual pupils more easily and thereby aiding differentiation.

5. To enhance and augment teaching and learning in ways that were previously not possible or not easy to do.

6. To promote engagement and motivation both in lessons and outside the classroom.

After extensive testing and trialling of a wide range of alternatives, the school has identified the iPad as the preferred option because of the consistency of the operating system and interface, its ease of use, durability and portability as well as the availability of educational apps. In addition, its rapid access to the internet and resources (compared with time-consuming logins) will mean that ICT can be used more routinely when appropriate and beneficial.  If parents have any technical queries with regards to the use of mobile technology, please click here to contact us.

We have updated the recommended model of iPad, please see the specification FAQ below.  The school’s recommended model of iPad and case are available at preferential rates from solutions inc., a reputable Apple Premium Reseller. Insurance policies are also available from this site.  Please click here to visit the PGS solutions inc. page – please ensure you are in The Portsmouth Grammar School section of the website when making your purchase, not the public store. Parents are, of course, free to purchase an iPad from wherever they wish.

We want our pupils to take control of and develop independence in their learning, become digitally literate, using technology in a way that is efficient and prepares them for the future.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Rationale

Why has the decision been made to introduce mobile devices?

In September 2015 we introduced tablet devices for all pupils in Years 9 and 12. For two years, leading up to September 2015, PGS prepared for the introduction of mobile devices by speaking with other schools and learning from their experience. We constructed a Wi-Fi network that can support and serve a large number of devices, and have also invested time and effort in educating pupils in e-safety so that they are aware of how to use mobile technology responsibly and safely.

Since January 2014 we have been training cohorts of staff in the use of iPads and trialling their use in classrooms. Well-trained and well-equipped staff, able to deploy this technology effectively, now have an increased set of teaching and learning tools to deliver outstanding lessons.

The feedback from staff and pupils on the first year of introduction of mobile devices has been encouraging and indicates a growing desire to maximise the potential of this mobile technology. We want to put devices into the hands of more pupils because a personal device offers new opportunities to motivate and engage pupils of all abilities.

In the last three years we have surveyed pupils to establish trends in personal ownership and use of mobile devices and this has helped to determine both the timing and our choice of preferred device.

Are all pupils involved?

Yes, but we are particularly focusing on pupils in Years 9 and 12 at this stage.

From September 2016 we are expecting pupils in Years 9, 10, 12 and 13 to bring devices as a requirement of their day to day equipment. Pupils in Years 10 and 13 will be in their second year of bringing in and using their mobile devices in School. We have already started to evaluate the roll out and will continue to do this periodically but anticipate that from September 2017 it will be a requirement for all pupils in Years 9-13 to bring a mobile device.

Since January 2015 we have also used three class sets of iPads to pilot their introduction. Pupils in years 7, 8 and 11 will continue to use these existing class sets.

Currently, we are not anticipating it being a requirement for pupils in Years 7 and 8 to have a mobile device in September 2018.

Mobile devices in the classroom

Will mobile devices be used in all lessons?

No.  Our vision is for PGS pupils and teachers to use technology in a blended learning environment, complementing existing teaching styles by using tablets to enhance and in some cases transform pupils’ learning experiences. We continue to value the importance of ensuring that all our pupils, without exception, are able to read and write fluently and are fully numerate. We see mobile technology as an additional tool to continue to enhance opportunities for pupils to excel in these areas.

How will mobile technology equip pupils with the skills they need for the future?

We want to give our pupils the life skills and understanding to be ahead of others in terms of employability and optimum working practices, and recognise that mobile technology will play an important role in this.

Pupils at PGS need to leave the School confident that they can safely navigate the wider world in which they live and will work. Universities and businesses are expecting students and employees to be digitally literate and have a high awareness of their personal digital footprint.

Why a personalised device for each pupil as opposed to a class set?

With every pupil in Years 9, 10, 12 and 13 having their own device, it means that they take ownership of the device and look after it, learn how to use it effectively and develop appropriate skills in its usage.

Pupils will be able to personalise their device with the applications that suit their learning and option choices.

Class sets of these devices have proved to be helpful in developing teacher skills but they have also proved– at PGS and at other schools – to be less effective than personal ownership. Class sets also pose a number of problems as pupils are required to spend time personalising their logins to email and apps at the start of each lesson. This makes what should be a rapid process both time-consuming and problematic when transferring work and data.

Are there risks of recommending a single manufacturer such as Apple?

Yes; however, the school has deliberately taken time to make an informed decision, based on extensive research.  As part of the ICT strategy we will continue to make decisions on the basis of what we feel will be of maximum benefit to the pupils. 

Can smartphones be brought to school and be used in lessons? After all what is the difference between a smart phone and a tablet?

Yes. An increasing number of teachers are introducing the use of interactive activities using smart phones. However, they do not provide the same experience or capability as a tablet and are not a replacement for a tablet. The school has a clearly established policy for mobile phone use whilst pupils are at school.

Will the device be able to access the school network?

Yes. Pupils can currently access the school’s network through their phone and pupils will continue to be able to access the school Wi-Fi system which provides appropriate filtering. The school has a mobile device management system (Airwatch). In order for pupils to be able to access the wireless network with their mobile device, they will have to register it with Airwatch which will enable some further level of control over the device whilst in school.

Specification, Purchase and iPad care

Which device are pupils required to bring to school?

The school trialled a number of devices as well as surveying pupils to help inform the decision.

The iPad device is already used by our staff and by the overwhelming majority of our pupils, who already bring a device to school. We feel it best supports the school’s educational aims.

If purchasing a new device, we recommend that parents should choose an iPad. If a pupil already has ownership of, or chooses to bring, an alternative device, we will endeavour to ensure that our ICT infrastructure is able to support similar technologies. However, possession of an iPad will enable your child to take full advantage of our training, equipment, support and ICT systems.

What specification of iPad?

As a minimum, the School requirements are for an iPad with a camera and Wi-Fi capability.

We recommend a device which has 32 GB capacity and a full size screen although some pupils do use devices with smaller capacity and screen. We strongly advise against providing pupils with an iPad which accepts a SIM card. It is not required and may result in significant, unnecessary expense and allows pupils to access the internet without passing through our internet filters.

Below is a comparison of some current iPad models showing the most important differences in specification.

Feature

iPad mini 4

128 GB

iPad

32 GB

iPad Pro 10.5-inch

64 GB

Full size screen

32GB memory
or larger

As can be seen from the table, both the iPad  and iPad Pro 10.5-inch both meet all of our recommendations.

The school’s recommended model of iPad and case are available at preferential rates from solutions inc., a reputable Apple Premium Reseller. Insurance policies are also available from this site.  Please click here to visit the PGS solutions inc. page – please ensure you are in The Portsmouth Grammar School section of the website when making your purchase, not the public store. Parents are, of course, free to purchase an iPad from wherever they wish.

Can the school help with purchasing a new iPad?

The school’s recommended model of iPad and case are available at preferential rates from solutions inc., a reputable Apple Premium Reseller. Insurance policies are also available from this site.  Please click here to visit the solutions inc. site.  Please ensure you are in The Portsmouth Grammar School section of the website when making your purchase, not the public store. Parents are, of course, free to purchase an iPad from wherever they wish.

 

Are there any additional costs?

We must stress the importance of having a case for tablets to minimise damage. Evidence shows a sturdy case with corner protection is particularly effective in this regard and minimises interruption to learning. We currently supply staff at PGS with the ‘STM dux’ case.

We also strongly recommend you make sure your device is insured and purchased with a warranty.

Who pays for the apps?

All iPads now come with a copy of Pages, Numbers, iMovie and Keynote at no additional charge.

PGS has identified a ‘nucleus’ of apps that may be used across all academic departments. Careful consideration has been given to the nucleus of apps so that they are suitable for a range of devices and, wherever possible, are not exclusive to iPads. These will be provided to pupils’ devices, via our mobile device management system.

Departments will identify a limited number of additional subject-specific apps that pupils will be required to download. The number of apps will be carefully monitored and controlled to ensure that the costs are limited and the benefit of any purchase is justified.

Pupils will be free to load up whatever apps they choose on their own device – for free or paid for by themselves.

How best can devices be security marked?

Apple devices can be purchased with laser etching when ordered online through the Apple store.

What happens if I can’t afford a mobile device?

We want this to be an inclusive scheme and hope that no child will be excluded from the programme because of their financial circumstances.    If parents would like to discuss the possibility of assistance, they should contact the Bursar, Mr Don Kent, directly.

Why doesn’t the school fund the provision of iPads for its pupils?

Evidence from other school studies highlights both practical and learning benefits of pupils owning their device.  Personal ownership has the advantage of removing the learning boundaries between school and home which can increase motivation and engagement.  Devices can be personalised according to particular subjects studied or learning needs.  All studies demonstrate that pupil-owned devices last considerably longer and are looked after far more carefully.

Managing the use of mobile devices at school

How can pupils’ usage be managed?

The School will require all pupils to register their device with PGS and download Airwatch, the school’s mobile device management system. This will enable the School to restrict some usage of the device whilst pupils are on the school site and connected to the network. We would strongly encourage parents to establish some level of control of the device at home. For iPads, Family Sharing enables parents to exert a reasonable degree of supervision and monitoring. 

What about Internet safety?

Pupils already have lessons on e-safety and we expect pupils to use the devices safely and responsibly. The apps available on the iPad are regulated by Apple and access to the Internet via our Wi-Fi system is filtered. The School has age appropriate filtering provided by a Watchguard firewall. These filters will block access to any inappropriate content while the device is used on the school network (but not if they have a device which accepts a SIM card). Parents are free to determine how restrictive their child’s access is at home. We recommend that parents also use the parental controls that the device offers. Advice on how to do this for iPads can be found on the Apple website.

Even though the iPads are pupil-owned, the school has a responsibility to manage pupil use of devices through the School’s Wi-Fi system, thereby ensuring safe and appropriate use at School. Pupils sign an Acceptable IT Use policy and instances of inappropriate behaviour when using the devices will be dealt with in much the same way as inappropriate behaviour of any other kind, according to the School’s sanctions.

iTunes accounts are restricted to persons over 13 years of age. How does this affect the use of the iPad?

There is a significant amount of advice on the Apple website.  In particular, there is the Parents’ Guide to iTunes in the App Store section of the iTunes store.

iTunes accounts are restricted to people aged 13 and over and this is one of the reasons we are not introducing iPads at this time to Years 7 & 8. Apple recommends that users aged 13 – 18 read through the terms and conditions with their parents. The use of Family Sharing enables a family to establish a group and activate different levels of access and control according to the age of the user.

iTunes cards can be purchased.  These can be used by pupils without the need to access passwords or credit card details and may be the better choice.

Will pupils be able to use iPads outside of lessons?

When in school, the iPad is to be used as an educational device. Pupils will not be permitted to use their devices during break times or in public places. All pupils have a locker in which they will be encouraged to secure their iPad when it is not being used.  Many pupils already carry mobile phones and the same rules apply regarding their use around the school.

What happens if a pupil forgets their device or forgets to charge it overnight?

This will disadvantage the learner, and be treated in the same way as not having any other item of required equipment – such as exercise or text books – through the Sanctions and Rewards Policy.  However, the school will have a small number of iPads and battery packs which can be loaned to pupils for a small fee. 

Whose responsibility is it to back up data?

Developing a good routine for storing and backing up work is a valuable lesson to learn and, as these are personal devices, it will be the responsibility of the individual to back up data.

Where are files going to be stored given that each app works independently?

Pupils will have a range of storage options and can select which best suit their needs.

All pupils have a personal Google Apps for Education account. This has free and unlimited storage in the form of a Google Drive. Resources shared by teachers can be stored here automatically and files that pupils create using any of the Google Apps for Education will also be stored here automatically. We recommend that pupils back thei school work to the storage provided as part of this account.

Apple’s iCloud also stores files and can backup files on the iPad on a daily basis. 5 GB is available free of charge.

Can pupils print from a mobile device?

The need for printing is expected to decrease with the introduction of mobile devices.

Pupils can print from an iPad wirelessly using AirPrint. Alternatively, it is very easy to share any file from a mobile device via the cloud or by emailing to yourself so you can then print from a traditional computer.

When should iOS updates be applied?

While it is obviously up to individual families when updates are applied to personal devices, it can be prudent to wait a few days until any potential quirks have been resolved.

Safety and Security

What precautions can we take to minimise the chance of loss of the mobile device?

While pupils must learn to bear a large portion of the responsibility and look after their mobile device, we recommend that all mobile devices should be kept in lockers when not required for lessons.  In addition to this, pupils can implement some simple measures such as setting a passcode on the device, setting up an app such as Find My iPhone, or equivalent, and ensuring that the device is clearly identifiable both on the case and on the unlock screen.  We also strongly encourage all families to take out an appropriate insurance policy for the mobile device.

Will pupils be less safe if they are carrying mobile devices to school?

A large number of pupils currently carry valuable smart phones to school and are not under threat because of this. We would recommend that pupils follow the same sensible precautions for personal safety as they would do at any other time.

What happens if the mobile device gets lost or damaged?

While parents will be responsible for organising the repair or replacement of damaged or lost devices, the school will have some iPad devices available for short-term loan, for a fee (£2/day to cover depreciation, insurance and staff administration), during the time pupils are without a device.

Who is responsible if another pupil damages my child’s mobile device?

Individual pupils are responsible for their own iPads and should ensure that they take care of them at all times. The normal disciplinary procedures apply in the event of damage to another pupil’s property.

Will mobile devices be left in school bags when they have games, sport, after-school clubs etc.?

No. All pupils have a personal locker and must use these secure storage locations as and when appropriate. During PE and games lessons lockers have been provided with a £1 deposit mechanism both at Hilsea Playing Fields and in the Sports Hall, and we would encourage pupils to share responsibility with each other to lock valuables away during PE and Games lessons.

However, human nature being as it is, over time we do anticipate pupils may leave mobile devices in their bags despite being advised to the contrary. As is the current advice, we suggest pupils have a small padlock on their bags to reduce theft of their belongings.   The evidence from other schools shows that pupils take much greater care of mobile devices if they are their personal property. 

Managing the use of mobile devices at home

Do we need Wi-Fi at home?

Whilst not essential, Wi-Fi at home will allow students to utilise fully online resources, including the School’s virtual learning environment (MyPGS), Google Apps for Education and various resources that will be identified by teachers. Of course, it is ultimately up to families to make a decision about this option.

Does the mobile device replace the need for a laptop/desktop computer at home?

No, these devices do not fully replace a laptop or desktop for all uses. Laptops and desktops are recognised as being better for generating materials and particularly high end tasks such as web development, animation and desktop publishing. Desktop facilities will continue to be available at school.

Tablets are not intended for extensive amounts of typing and as such the school will still offer pupils access to ICT Suites with desktop computers and traditional keyboards; in the same way, we expect most homes to remain equipped with a desktop and/or laptop. In addition, some pupils may choose to purchase and use a Bluetooth keyboard.

How can I ensure my child is not using their mobile device inappropriately at home?

Apple’s Family Sharing enables parents to control and restrict access to some extent, but we also suggest that establishing clear boundaries and expectations is the easiest way to achieve this, as with the use of all computers in a domestic setting. We recommend that you allow use of the mobile device in open and visible parts of the house only, not bedrooms. Establishing a routine where the iPad is checked by parents frequently is also a good idea.  Further advice will be provided in the training sessions for parents during the Summer Term.

Will there be banned apps?

It will be for parents to decide which personal apps a pupil should have on their device.  The School may ask a pupil to remove specific apps from their device if those apps are deemed to be being used in an inappropriate way.

We have Windows PCs at home. Do we need to buy Mac computers?

No.  iTunes software is compatible with a Windows PC, enabling you to connect, synchronise and backup your iPad with a PC. Common file formats for documents, images, photos and movies are now compatible with iOS (iPod, iPhone, iPad), OS X (MacBook, iMac) and Windows PCs.  Furthermore, Google Apps for Education accounts are accessible from the most common internet browsers.

Can my children put their own personal content on the mobile device?

Yes. The mobile device is a personal device.  Pupils will install their music and games onto the device as long as its use does not impact on the space available for educational resources and apps. It will be impressed upon pupils that whilst at school the device is meant to be used for educational purposes.

Further help

What do I do if there is something wrong with the iPad? Do I need to contact Apple for repairs or will the School arrange for the problem to be fixed?

Any issues with the device should be reported to the manufacturer, or the supplier from which the device was purchased. The school will not arrange this.

Will you be providing parent-help workshops?

Yes. We will organise introductory one hour workshops for parents during the Summer Term.

During the course of the seminars we will demonstrate some of the ways tablets will be used. It will also be an opportunity for us to outline some of the practical considerations of introducing tablets in school and for you to ask any questions that you may have.

Further details will be shared in due course.

What if we have other questions which are not covered here, or we don’t want to take part?

While we would encourage all families to take part, it is your right to choose not to do so. If after reading through all the details which explain what we are doing and why we are doing it, you have any further queries or concerns, please contact either:

Dr Graham Purves
Assistant Head (Teaching and Learning)
g.purves@pgs.org.uk

Mr Ben Goad

Deputy Head (Academic)
b.goad@pgs.org.uk

If you have any technical queries relating to the use of mobile technology please email us at: ipad@pgs.org.uk